MANHATTAN, Kan. — Will Spradling scored 19 points and No. 14 Kansas State used a big first-half run to beat West Virginia 71-61 on Monday night, spoiling the return of Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins to the school he helped rebuild.
Nino Williams had 13 points off the bench, and Angel Rodriguez had 11 points and seven assists for the Wildcats (21-5, 10-3). They slipped into first place in the Big 12 by a half game over ninth-ranked Kansas and No. 14 Oklahoma State, who play each other Wednesday night.
Deniz Kilicli had 14 points for the Mountaineers (13-13, 6-7), but he didn’t get a whole lot of help. The rest of their starters combined for 13 points, with two of them getting shut out.
Huggins received a warm reception in his first trip back to Bramlage Coliseum, where he went 23-12 as coach of the Wildcats during the 2006-07 season. Huggins led the program to the NIT, its first postseason appearance in eight years, before skipping town for his alma mater.
The reception was probably the highlight for Huggins on this night.
He watched the Wildcats use an 18-2 run to seize control in the opening minutes, and then was whistled for a technical foul for arguing with officials in the second half. Moments later, his leading scorer — freshman guard Eron Harris — foul out after throwing an elbow on defense and picking up a technical foul of his own moments later.
There were plenty of whistles blown in this game.
The officials called 49 fouls, and both teams spent more than 18 minutes in the bonus. The Mountaineers also had center Aaric Murray foul out, the Wildcats lost Jordan Henriquez, and there were three others who had four fouls when the game finally ended.
The teams combined to shoot 53 free throws.
The Wildcats, who were coming off a second-half blitz that carried them to an 81-61 win over Baylor on Saturday, kept the momentum going during the first half Monday night.